Pondering the Future of Snow Days in a Hybrid-Learning World

For many of us high school students living in the northeast, our memories of elementary school include countless nights staying up late watching the weather segments on the news and falling asleep with backwards pajamas and frozen spoons under our pillows, all united under one common goal: The Snow Day. Now, in 2021, some of us are in need of that picture perfect “snow day” more than ever; time to spend with family, to catch up on school work, maybe to bake sugar cookies, or just relax our minds. This school year is without a doubt the most overwhelming and confusing of our lives, and each day we find ourselves exploring uncharted waters. The arrival of winter in New York combined with hybrid learning poses yet another question to school administrations: “What will happen to snow days?”        

The night of December 16 was the first time in the 2020-2021 school year that this question became a reality. With the first blizzard on the way, and students learning both remotely and on campus, Nanuet schools decided to cease instruction altogether for Thursday, December 17. Their reason for taking such precautions included potential power outages. Snow storms can be stressful for families, especially with all members of a household worrying about working from their bedrooms, while trees and power lines are collapsing outside. From the perspective of the average student, any rationalization of a school-free day would suffice. That being said, the average student would have probably also expected school to continue even through snow storms, since the year 2020 has given way to online instruction that is fully accessible to all students from home. School districts across the country have seen a sea of complaints from parents, arguing that the new virtual/hybrid learning models should not take away the fun and relaxation of traditional snow days for children. New York City public schools, for example, remained fully virtual on December sixteenth. Parents, teachers, and students across our district and others, anticipated the decisions of administrations. For Nanuet, it is important that schools provide equity for all students with different living situations, and removing school from the equation during a potentially dangerous and unpredictable storm provides a bit more security, and possibly removes some weight from families’ shoulders. 

After now experiencing a snow day in the world of fully virtual learning, can students, families, and staff expect more cancellations amidst future blizzards? Well, as we have all learned during the age of hybrid learning, nobody has the answers. It is important to remember that remote learning and everything that comes with it is just as new to teachers as it is to students, and visa versa. 

This year has proven the strength of students and teachers alike, and has heightened our sense of community, proving that we really are all in this together. Those in charge are usually expected to have the answers to all of our questions, but right now it is impossible to hold anyone to normal standards. It is expected, and more likely than not, for administrators to not have all of the answers, whether the conversation is about Regents Exams or snow storms. Everybody is trying their best to navigate this extremely challenging school year, and even the most experienced among us are unexperienced when it comes to school during a pandemic.

What do you think? Is the traditional snow day here to stay? Should it be? Now more than ever, it is easy for any of us to get caught up in what is right and wrong, along with all the possible outcomes of and answers to the conflicts that COVID-19 has brought us. Maybe a snow day every now and again is the best thing for everyone, all things considered.